advice for brand new female rider

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by khale, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. khale

    khale ride dirty

    Oct 28, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    Hello all,
    I'm a longtime advrider and have ridden motorbikes my entire life. My girlfriend has shown interest in riding and I want to start her off easy. Right now, I have a 1968 honda CB160 for her, but it needs work to get it running. My main concern is that it is an older bike, will be harder and more fickle to operate and will be less reliable. I purchased the bike for her because she loves the retro look (as do I, r75/5 owner), and it was a small CC bike, great to start on.
    What I'm considering is buying her a newer (2011 ish) Suzuki TU250X, for around 3k and selling the Honda CB, or putting it away for another day to restore.
    She understands basic clutch/throttle operation, but needs a lot of practice before I let her go on Atlanta roads. What advice would you give to me that I can help her to ride and understand how to properly ride a motorcycle?
    Also, is it a good idea to buy this newer bike for her to learn on? Is there anything I can do to the bike to prevent a drop? Maybe attach some kind of soft protectors on the tank in case of drops? Obviously, she will learn in a parking lot.
  2. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

    Mar 1, 2009
    Alameda for now
    Regardless of whether she is female or not, she's a noob and we all have dropped bikes as a noob and beyond. It's going to happen so why not put crash bars on it or make sure whatever bike she gets has sliders on it? I would not personally get anything newer than 09, maybe 10 model, but that's just me.

    My best suggestion, being a shorter female myself, is to help her find a bike that she physically feels comfortable on. That will help her with her confidence more than anything. I went through four bikes before finding one that really fit me, then my confidence and skills took off! I wasn't afraid of dropping it because I felt comfortable enough to control it.

    Good luck on your search and I will help anyway I can!
  3. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

    Oct 18, 2005
    I think the ideal is for her to learn and get acquainted with motorcycle riding from a third party. MSF is a great start. Click here for MSF locations in Georgia.

    A newer (as in newer than a classic, old) bike is a better choice for her to learn, in my opinion. And safer (brakes come to mind).

  4. D R

    D R Been here awhile

    Sep 14, 2007
    What Lion BR said...

    You have too much of an emotional attachment. It's best for an impartial third party to provide the instruction and training. Also, don't invest any money into new motocycles until you determine (via MSF) if your girlfriend has the apptitude. About 95% will take the MSF course and be proven to have the apptitude, however there is nothing worse than investing money in new motorcycles to only find out you fall in the 5% which lack the apptitude.
  5. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    By the Great Lakes
    Yup, I'd definitely recommend an MSF BRC, and possibly even a beginner dirt-riding course before thinking about throwing all the money into buying a bike. She can learn how to operate a moto with varying traction and terrain conditions, without having to still consciously think about controlling the moto, before having to do it on pavement and/or with traffic around.

    Even as an experienced rider of over a decade, I improved my riding through rider training.
  6. khale

    khale ride dirty

    Oct 28, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks so much everyone. Looks like I'm going to go for the MSF BRC for her bday. I know she really likes motorbikes, so I'm hoping it will stick and not be a fleeting thing. Any other advice is always appreciated.
  7. KansasKawboy

    KansasKawboy KK

    Mar 24, 2007
    Outside Kansas City
    The MSF BRC is the way to go. The TU250 is a good choose for a beginner they are very forgiving, thats why the MSF likes to use them for their courses. I have one for my commuter bike and it's a ball to ride.
  8. Budman

    Budman Been here awhile

    Feb 5, 2006
    Denver NC
    My son just finished his Basic Rider course. He bought a 2007 Moto Guzzi Breva 750. Only weighs about 400 poounds. He has dropped it twice in the garage. Ive replace right side miror and most reciently the right turn signal. "When you look down the motorcycle goes down"
    He is going slow and spending a lot of time in his neighborhood. I installed a windshield and got him a great helmet and some protective gear. Im going to schedule him for another MSA course and have purchased More Proficient Motorcycling for him.
    I thought about a smaller bike but this one seemed to be a good buy and its not to big to be intimidating. He really likes it and thats pretty important to his confidence.
    Anyway thats my 2 cents.

  9. JDK111

    JDK111 Been here awhile

    Jun 22, 2010
    W. Canada
    Not all of us have.

    My suggestion for a total noob is a small steet legal dirt bike (in cc's and seat height).
    Start the riding lessons off the road where spills can be inconsequential.
  10. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

    May 13, 2004
    NoVA for now...
    First and foremost: relax

    I watched an obviously n00b female rider turn left at a light. You could tell by body language she was tense.

    Tense = bad. Tense = jerky controls and a fidgety MC. Jerky controls and a fidgety MC = spiraling downwards trend towards 'not good things happening.' :nod

  11. HooliKen

    HooliKen Awesome is a flavor

    May 13, 2007
    Hampton Roads, VA
    +1000. MSF is the best way to go.

    As far as bikes, the choices are so numerous it wobbles the mind. Like others, my standard advice is something that you are not going to cry about WHEN it ends up on the ground with some new "character" marks.
  12. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

    Sep 8, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    A TU250 is a great choice, but I would say get some sort of smaller lighter dual sport at first, because they drop better then any street bike.

    And its a whole lot safer learning to ride in the dirt, not many texters on the trails...
  13. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Aug 19, 2008
    New(er) Mexico
    Don't teach her yourself. Just don't. Besides the obvious strains it will put on your relationship, the Hurt Report had some pretty sobering statistics on how riders fare when they are taught by family and friends versus officially sanctioned training (hint...they die more when they don't take a real class).

    Have her take an MSF class and then go from there.

    A TU250 would be an excellent bike. I'd be thrilled if you bought one for me :D
  14. smj

    smj Been here awhile

    Oct 15, 2010
    What ever bike you for her to start on - just make sure it fits. Feet very flat on the ground, maybe even a little bend in the knees. Do not put her on a bike that is tall for her. Something lighter weight would be better as well, straight road or enduro style, stay light weight. Last, make all the controls comfortable for her, not you or the last owner. Adjust everything for her, have all the controls smooth as silk. Once she gets it going and starts to want something different, and can pick one out for herself, then worry about what she might ride longer term. Maybe by then she'll want that CB160, or a Harley. Just try to make it work for her. I went through this with my daughters, if it don't work for her, the interest may not last very long. Hope it works out very well for both of you.
  15. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

    Jun 21, 2008
    The Palace of the People, VT
    If I had to recommend a beginner bike, I'd look at a Yamaha XT225. I also agree with the MSF recommendation. While I find the TU250 dead sexy (it is a really stylish machine), the XT has some serious advantages as a beginner machine, not the least of which is that you can drop it quite a lot without harming it seriously. It's light. It's low. It will ride on pavement, and off-road.

    It has a very low first gear. This has advantages and disadvantages, as in the city, there's a very rapid shift from first to second. In fact, you can easily start off in second on the the pavement. That being said, it's very difficult to stall it in first, which builds confidence.

    The 225 has a tall sixth, which is pretty good on the highway. As it has only fifteen hp, don't expect miracles, but it can keep up with the big boys. Mostly.

    It's cheap, fair looking, and has reasonable brakes. It's simple to fix. Although it's jetted ridiculously lean from the factory, the solution is easy and economical. And it gets about 72 mpg on regular gas. Good little hoss. If your lady wants something with a little more style, you won't loose money on one should you sell it later.
  16. Snapper

    Snapper Long timer

    Oct 10, 2003
    SW CT
    I taught a few girlfriends to ride in high school and college, it's pretty easy, safe, and fun, actually.

    The most daunting thing for newb is the sink-or-swim method - ie, "here's XYZ control's, try to say balanced when you stop... now good luck." The easier way is to let a newb work on a single control at time until they are proficient with it, then teach the next control, and then combinations.

    The way to do this is for you to sit on the passenger seat with your arms around her. She holds the insides of the grips and levers, you hold the outsides, your feet on the pegs, her feet on top of yours. With you controlling everything else, let her do a few laps in a parking lot just working the throttle only. At first, she lightly grips the throttle feeling what you are doing, and then the control slowly shifts over to her with you lightly gripping the throttle (later you can rest your hand nearby on a mirror stalk, hand guard, or by thumb controls, but be in position to override).

    Then let her use the throttle and front brake alternately, then add rear brake. Then the gear shift lever - clutch is last though. Come to a stop frequently to give her a sense of the slow speed balance and when to put your feet down. You're talking in her ear the whole time. Transition the clutch over slowly as described with the throttle above. Keep doing laps, in both directions to learn turning both ways. When you're comfortable, you can move your feet and hands back from their override positions until you're just a passenger.

    Have fun!
  17. RoadRdr

    RoadRdr Been here awhile

    Oct 24, 2007
    South Jersey - there's a difference
    I didn't see anyone mention getting her fitted with full gear. Make sure it's comfortable so she'll wear it and it fits so that she can operate all the controls. Avoid the fashion biker boots they sell women that have very thick soles and make it difficult to shift. The right size gloves are also very important. Watch her operate a clutch, brake, and throttle wearing the gloves.

    Another vote for the MSF course.
  18. ThosMa

    ThosMa Adventurer

    Sep 26, 2011
    Village of Menotomy, Maffachufetts-Bay
    I can tell you from first hand experience that new rider + old bike is not an ideal combination. After I passed the MSF BRC, I spent a winter getting a '76 CB200 road-worthy. It's the perfect starter bike - for 1979 or so. Although nothing catastrophic has happened yet, I have found myself wondering about odd sounds and smells when I should be focusing on my skills.

    If the budget had permitted, I probably would have gone with the TU250x - and I still may.

    I can also tell you from first hand experience that resurrecting a vintage bike will take more time (and money) than you expect. Buy her a new(ish) bike and she can go riding while you're waiting for the CB160 parts order to show up. :D

  19. tokyoklahoma

    tokyoklahoma 75%has been 25%wanabe

    Jun 24, 2011
    N.W. Arkansas
    I too would recommend a more modern (but not new) bike. The skills from the BRC transfer better, and mechanical issues aren't a concern.

    My wife does not have her own bike yet, and has been practicing on my '72 R5 Yamaha. Two stroke is not ideal (less low-rpm torque), and she has developed a great and abiding hatred of a kickstarter.:huh
  20. Gadget Girl

    Gadget Girl Been here awhile

    Dec 13, 2009
    North of ATL
    I'm very surprised that no one has-

    A) asked if there are any height challenges as this is often a concern for many women.
    B) suggested the Ninja 250

    As mentioned before, DO NOT attempt to train a new rider on your own. All relationship issues aside, you are not a qualified instructor and will not provide all the information and drills they do in the MSF courses.

    Learn from my mistake. Son #1 took the MSF and is a very safe rider.
    Son #2 constantly had excuses not to take the MSF. I let him take the Ninja out for a family ride. He made a terrible noob mistake that they drill on in the MSF and luckily was not seriously injured. He's got a nasty chunk of scar tissue on his knee that still bothers him though. Yes, we did all the parking lot drills and practices. Yes, we taught him all we 'thought' he needed. BUT....
    Needless to say Son #3 is getting the MSF for his 16th birthday this Summer!

    AFTER she takes and passes the MSF I'd be more than happy to go on some short and later longer rides with her if she'd like to meet more women riders.

    As for the Ninja 250: That sucker can take a licking and keep on ticking! If you get a used one she can ride it for 6mos to a year or longer. Then if/when she wants something else you can get all the ca$h back that you invested and use it for the down payment on the next bike. It's got a low seat height, great gas mileage, very easy to handle and work on, parts are plentiful and cheap, etc, etc, etc. The '06 we have is about to be passed on to nOOb #3 and still runs great! Not to mention that mom has fun with it on occasion as well! :evil